The insider’s view of Downtown’s culture, food, drinks, and the people who shape it.

DTLA Dinner Club: In Great Company

DTLA Dinner Club: In Great Company

A simple but meaningful statement tossed into a conversation, much like a vital spice into a simmering pan, can make all the difference. In this case, it was an honest comment, “Josh, I’m so glad you’re home.” The heartfelt statement blended within the bustling exchange of friendly discussion.


But for a quick moment, Josh Gray-Emmer gazed out into the factory reflected sunset of East LA from his rooftop penthouse roof and marinated in thought — he’s glad to be back too. And if anyone should be the most thrilled about his recent return, it’s us local Downtowners. Now we have a new era of the eight-year-old tradition of DTLA Dinner Club, where the weight of any worries fade away, and community, relaxation, and cuisine are the principal ingredients to one of the cities most sought after traditions — and this season is set to be the best yet.


DTLA Dinner Club started at the end of 2010 and is an invite dining experience for thirty attendees with guest chefs that have included Top Chefs, sous chefs, and home cooks. So, why the hardline at thirty? Josh glances over the elegant set up of community tables illuminated by strands of Edison bulb lighting and smirks, “I only have thirty chairs, I have no other choice!”


There are eighteen scheduled dinner clubs this season including six founder dinners. Let’s be clear, this experience is free, and it’s an exclusive gift reserved for only Downtown residents. Josh identifies the importance of his ongoing mission “that’s the point, to create friendships with amazing food.” Melissa's Produce extends its hand for all the fresh ingredients, and The Mayfair Hotel contributes financially to help keep dinner club free for guests, all other plans or costs are spearheaded by Josh’s generosity.


Ready to dine? Simply get on the list, but also be aware the twist is the invite structure. Of the thirty invites, fifteen are returns and the other fifteen are brand new faces. If you’re a VIP return, you’ll receive early priority on the invite email. As an attempted first timer, you better be beyond quick to respond. Ryan is a fresh face and might have found the loophole, “I programmed the hue lights in my apartment to blink when the email from Dinner Club was sent.” Talk about perseverance, but it’s beyond worth it. Plates highlighted by chefs Helen Li and Leo Lamprides of Chinese Laundry guided this specific DTLA Dinner Club evening. A puree of banter occurred over dishes that included Rice Skin Noodles with Shrimp Ceviche, Wuhan Sesame Noodles with Pork Belly and a Tofu Flower dessert that looked too picturesque to eat. Each dish is broken down by the special guest chef before serving, an intimate moment that truly connects the audience to the chef's heart and soul.


The city welcomes Josh back from an adventurous year spent in Bali. The simple, heartfelt comment that kicked off the evening came from Rania, a friend of Josh’s for over fourteen years. Josh is very content “I’m beyond happy to be back home downtown, I missed my friends too much. A lyric from LCD Soundsystem comes to mind, “If I could see all my friends tonight.” Josh has figured out a recipe for the solution to James Murphy’s call and generously offers it to his beloved community while honoring delicious food. Go to and get on the list to wine and dine under twilight, meet new faces and experience innovative menus, all while the glow of our city wraps its arms around you.

Written by Travis Platt | Photography by Rebekah Lemire


Arch The: Seoul Angeles

Arch The: Seoul Angeles

Claytons Public House: The Sound of Home

Claytons Public House: The Sound of Home